Country Listing

Saudi Arabia Table of Contents

Saudi Arabia


Population: Figures vary; 1992 Saudi census, published December 1992, gave total population of 16.9 million, of whom 12.3 million Saudi nationals, 4.6 million resident foreigners. Annual rate of growth in 1992 was 3.3 percent.

Ethnic Groups and Languages: All Saudis are Arab Muslims, as are over half the foreigners. In 1990 foreign work force included large numbers of Egyptians, Yemenis, Jordanians, Bahrainis, Pakistanis, Indians, and Filipinos, in that order. Arabic language of all Saudis.

Religion: Strict Wahhabi interpretation of Sunni Islam, the official faith of about 95 percent of Saudis. Remainder are Shia, most of whom reside in vicinity of Al Ahsa and Al Qatif in Eastern Province. Public worship by non-Muslims prohibited.

Education and Literacy: Education system experienced massive growth in 1970s and 1980s. Attendance not compulsory. Females accounted for close to 44 percent of public school student total of 2.6 million in 1989. About 130,000 students in 1989 enrolled in nonvocational institutions of higher learning, 9,000 in vocational institutions; about 4,000 enrolled abroad. Literacy estimated at 62 percent of those over age fifteen in 1990, 73 percent for males and 48 percent for females.

Health: Infant mortality declining, twenty-one per 1,000 births in Ministry of Health hospitals in 1990. Immunization of infants and young children compulsory. Health care facilities underwent huge expansion in 1970s and 1980s. Official policy to provide comprehensive medical care free or at nominal fee. Introduction of epidemic control system in 1986 eliminated cholera, plague, and yellow fever. Incidence of malaria and bilharzia reduced to 1.6 and 1.9 percent respectively of total 1988 population. Despite trachoma campaigns, disease remained a major cause of blindness.

Data as of December 1992